Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Friday, September 10, 2004

Forgeries Update

AS long as we're digging up old memos, The Man at GOP and the city has dug up an old report card from when Dan Rather was in school. Pretty damaging stuff.

Also, I went to fisk Kos' take* on the scandal and quickly decided that was a bad idea. Someone over there spent waaaaay more time on this than I am willing to do, like researching the history and functions of the IBM Selectric. Instead, I'll just sum up an important point he makes and lay the smack down. The argument, basically, is that when you superimpose the CBS memo and one produced on MicroSoft Word, they are similar, but they are not identical. He especially criticizes LGF for shrinking the overlapped images down to where the size of the pixels makes the similarity look more clear, and notes that at larger sizes the letters match up less and less.

Instead of spending hours researching thirty-year-old typewriters, I thought I'd simply perform the experiment myself. First of all, I had to adjust the margins, something LGF say he didn't have to do. I read on Ace that you don't need to adjust the margins if you are using Word 97, but I am using my school's version of Word 2003. I had to adjust the margins inward by half an inch to get the words to match up.

Next I ran my memo through a photocopier for ten generations to "age" the original.
Finally I compared the results. First, although I didn't tell the photocopier to manipulate the size, it did anyway. That's important because Kos puts a great deal of emphasis on LGF shrinking down the CBS original to get the margins to line up.

Second, the text itself was warped a little bit. That means that even though the fonts from the original and the tenth generation are similar, they are not identical, which reasoning Kos uses to debunk the LGF theory. I've demonstrated to my satisfaction that "similar but not identical" is exactly what we can expect from a 10th generation photocopy.

Certainly my little experiment is not sufficient to answer everything over at Kos, but as I said above, I'm not about to do the same research into 1970s typewriters that I saw there. I will say, however, that Bill from INDC got a nationally-renowned expert to weigh in on the question, and that expert says we're looking at a fake. Every news outlet that's gotten an expert says it's a fake. (Other than CBS, but I'm not fully convinced that their unnamed experts even exist).

* It's not clear from his blog whether Kos did this research, or whether it's a guest-blogger named Hunter, or what. But since it's on Kos' site, I'll just attribute it all to Kos, and if he has a problem with that ... he'll never know, because he doesn't read my blog.

Update: You can compare the CBS and LGF documents here (or look for them on LGF, but I don't feel like hunting around for the link). Note especially that in the CBS doc, the lines are slightly warped, and angled upwards. Compare the words "Memo to file" to the words "SUBJECT: CYA," and you'll see that the "Memo to File" line is not parallel to the "CYA" line. That is precisely the kind of warping I saw on my 10th generation photocopy, and precisely why the fonts would end up similar but not exactly identical.